BC’s GLAM sector signs Memorandum of Understanding to build capacity for learning and discovery


Representatives from the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA), the British Columbia Museums Association (BCMA), and the Archives Association of BC (AABC) gathered at the Surrey City Centre Library on March 24 to announce a new partnership formalizing cooperation among the province’s GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). The resulting Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the first in Canada among provincial GLAM sector organizations.

What does the MOU mean in practical terms? Collectively, the three organizations will:

  • Share professional expertise and knowledge to strengthen the capacity of all parties to advance their respective missions
  • Explore collaborative research projects to expand learning opportunities among the three Associations
  • Explore public outreach opportunities to spark community engagement with knowledge and ideas
  • Identify joint funding ventures for projects of mutual interest and benefit in the areas of knowledge curation and public education
  • Consider new awards to acknowledge and celebrate exceptional professionals and projects in our fields of expertise.

This partnership represents our values in action. We are proud to support the exchange of ideas and to provide the foundation for new discoveries by individuals and communities across the province. The president and past president of BCMA and AABC, respectively, describe their organizations as well as their specific MOU objectives below.

L-R: Minister of Community, Sport & Cultural Development Peter Fassbender, then-BCLA President Daphne Wood, BCMA President David Alexander, past AABC President Cindy McLellan, and Surrey Councillor and Library Trustee Dave Woods announce the MOU at Surrey City Centre Library on March 24.

BC Museums Association

Founded in 1957, the British Columbia Museums Association (BCMA) creates a bright future for British Columbia’s museum, gallery, and related heritage communities through networking, advocacy, innovation, and professional development. The association delivers programs and services to the benefit of its members and the sector at large, acting as the cultural and heritage information hub for British Columbia while providing a unified voice for the institutions, trustees, professional staff, and volunteers. The BCMA will launch a new program on digital museum studies with the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver in 2018.

“This memorandum of understanding strengthens the capacity of the three organizations, paving the way for us to be stronger advocates on behalf of our sectors, more efficient, and to partner on shared initiatives better meeting the needs of our audience – often a shared audience,” said BCMA president David Alexander. “Across the province galleries, libraries, archives and museums are already partnering in big and small ways – providing joint programming opportunities, working on exhibitions together, collaborating on digital access projects and in some cases, sharing the same physical space. This MOU provides a nice wide umbrella to support the work already in progress and encourage new partnerships among BC GLAM institutions.”

Archives Association of BC

Archives exist to uphold legal and historical memory. The Archives Association of BC (AABC) supports archives throughout our province so they can do this in their own communities and organizations. We provide archival advisory services, education, and networking opportunities.

The AABC maintains a provincial catalogue of archival descriptions, called MemoryBC. The MemoryBC.ca portal provides a searchable database of the materials available at archival repositories throughout the province of BC. Starting later this year we will allow institutions to upload digital objects. This service will be available to all of our members. It is especially aimed at those institutions so small that they do not have their own database; however, they do have exciting resources that they wish to share with a wider audience.

“Signing the Memorandum of Understanding with the BC Museums Association and the BC Library Association supports our goal of promoting access to British Columbia’s documentary heritage,” said Cindy McLellan, past president of AABC. “The three associations share many common values and can all benefit from a closer working relationship.”

“One of the common values mentioned in the MOU was respect and recognition of Indigenous peoples and cultures. As the AABC moves forward working with the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives’ Response to the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Taskforce (TRC-TF) we are thinking a great deal about collaboration. There will be renewed effort to support and reach out to Indigenous record-keepers in the coming months. Keeping in mind the objectives as stated in the MOU, I am optimistic that natural opportunities will arise for joint outreach opportunities.

“The AABC is looking forward to working closer with the BCMA and the BCLA as obvious professional allies. Working together we can all benefit creating new opportunities and new ways to share what we have to offer with the province.”


David Alexander and Daphne Wood presenting the concept of the MOU at the BCMA conference in fall 2016.

Looking forward

In the one month since this historic agreement was signed, representatives of the three GLAM partners delivered two joint conference presentations: one in Vancouver (April 21 at the BC Library Conference) and one in Victoria (April 28 at the AABC Conference) to discuss the MOU with their membership. A third presentation is scheduled for the BCMA conference in the fall.

Building on a strong tradition of partnerships within the sector, a small working group representing each of the three GLAM members will create an MOU “action kit” to describe practical (and inspirational!) opportunities to consider when working together. The kit will be available in fall 2017.

To our communities, we say this: Thank you for working in partnership with us. There are more great things to come as we build capacity in our neighbourhoods, across the province, and from coast to coast to coast in Canada.

A copy of the MOU is available for viewing here.

Daphne Wood is past president of BCLA and Director, Communications and Development at Greater Victoria Public Library

David Alexander is president of the BC Museums Association and Head of Archives, Access and Digital at the Royal Museum of BC

Cindy McLellan is the Archivist at BCIT. Her term as AABC president ended at the end of April 2017. She is the Chair of the Association of Canadian Archivists Technology and Archives Special Interest Section.